gerard_robinson.jpgTALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ State officials say they are halting payments for school construction projects.

Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson and State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan on Thursday sent out a memo telling school superintendents, university presidents and college presidents that they were suspending payments for new projects due to a shortfall in the trust fund that pays for them.

The memo says that the suspension will remain in effect until the Florida Legislature provides further direction. The suspension does not apply to previously approved contracts.

Earlier this week Gov. Rick Scott asked school and university officials to turn over $250 million that had been previously given out by the Legislature. Scott said the decline in the trust fund – which comes primarily from a tax on utilities – has been steeper than anticipated.